Blood pressure levels may be affected by HRT.




Ann Intern Med

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High blood pressure is one of the silent dangers for women, particularly as women age. Statistics from the American Heart Association show that the 26,000 women who died from hypertension in 1998 represented 58.5 percent of total deaths from high blood pressure. As women move into and through menopause, they may be more susceptible to high blood pressure than their male counterparts. In that same year, 1998, just over 18,000 men died from hypertension. In addition to age and gender, obesity, lifestyle, and genetic makeup are risk factors as well.
A recent study published in the August issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that the use of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) in postmenopausal women may be a potentially successful therapy for managing high blood pressure. This study supports earlier theories that have represented the potential value of HRT in relation to increasing blood pressure in postmenopausal women. What the researchers found was not that HRT lowered blood pressure, but that it slowed down the inevitable increase in systolic pressure over an extended period of time. (Systolic pressure represents the first number in a blood pressure reading.) When comparing women who took HRT with women who did not, the positive effects of HRT was still evident even in women who had more risk factors such as a family history of heart disease or were cigarette smokers. Women in the study were either long term users of HRT or not users of HRT at all, ruling out any women whose use of HRT was sporadic. Because of this particular criteria, the researchers were better able to look at the long term effects within both groups.1
The decision to take or not to take HRT is a very serious decision for women. The American Heart Association’s recommendations have changed over the years and it is not recommended for women with existing heart disease. Women considering this option should discuss the most recent findings with their physician and base their decision on their individual situation.


1. Scuteri A. Hormone replacement therapy and longitudinal changes in blood pressure in postmenopausal women. Ann Intern Med. Aug 2001;135(4):229-38.